Special Education Services

Evaluation for Services


  • Parent or school can request an evaluation to determine if a child is eligible for special education services.
  • Parents must give written consent (permission) for an evaluation, called Informed Consent.
  • School completes a full and individual evaluation to determine eligibility before special education services are provided.
  • Individualized Education Program Team (IEPT) of educators and professionals from different specialties conduct evaluation. They may use standardized tests, interviews, observation, or surveys to collect information.
  • Evaluation must be completed within 60 days of receiving parental consent.

Resources: Michigan Map of ISDsMichigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education

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Eligibility Decision

  • Family is notified within 7 school days of decision for eligibility.

Eligible for Services

  • An Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting will be scheduled, and a meeting planned with the school team; parents must consent to services.
  • Families should prepare for the IEP meeting. Go to Michigan Alliance for Families IEP Considerations for assistance.
  • Timeline: School has 15 school days after written consent is received from parents to start providing services (unless parent appeals).

Not Eligible for Services 

  • Family has the right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) by someone outside the district, and the school must pay for the evaluation, or show that the evaluation was appropriate at an impartial due process hearing.

Resources: Michigan Alliance for Families provides mentors to assist with this process, Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education

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Individualized Education Program (IEP)

IEP Must Include...

  • Includes eligibility and snapshot of current performance across areas (academic, behavioral, social)
  • Families should give input
  • Baseline data for creating goals
  • Considered the student’s placement
  • Supports and services are described specifically such as numbers of days and times a service may be provided
  • Includes services such as speech and occupational therapy
  • Changes needed to classroom or curriculum to best assist the student
  • Accommodation=helps student complete the same work as non-disabled peers.
  • Modification=changes the level of work or actual work required
  • Measures of Progress and are Academic, Behavioral, Social, or Transitional
    • S= Specific
    • M=Measurable
    • A=Achievable
    • R=Relevant
    • T=Time based
  • Each IEP team member signs
  • Parent must consent and sign for accommodations, modifications, and placement (offer of FAPE) for initial IEP to be implemented
  • For students turning 16 years during the time the IEP is active
  • Must have transition goal and plan

Planning for IEP

  • IEP must be held within 15 school days from the school receiving written consent from parents (so that services can start within 15 days).
  • Parent should have communication of eligibility prior to this meeting.
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Developing the IEP

  • Families are a very important part of this decision making process.
  • IEP lists any special services needed for one year, including goals, objectives, and benchmarks.
  • IEP addresses services, locations, and modifications needed.
  • Must offer Free Appropriate Education (FAPE) in writing on the IEP.
  • Student placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and in general education classroom for as much time as possible. Some students may be placed for periods of time in other locations such as resource or specialized classrooms. The goal is to be in general education as much as possible.
  • Usually can be finished in one meeting, but sometimes two are needed.

Resource: Michigan Alliance for Families provides mentors to assist with this process

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Implementing the IEP

  • IEP meetings usually occur one time a year to plan for the upcoming year.
  • IEP team should meet regularly regarding progress toward goals.
  • Parents can request an IEP at any time.
  • Progress is monitored and reported to parents, as agreed to in IEP.
  • Re-evaluations should occur every 3 years unless requested sooner by parents or school due to a notable change.
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Family Agrees with IEP

  • Initial IEPs must be agreed upon in writing for services to start.
  • Services start within 14 days of pending start date of IEP.
  • Parents will receive IEP, along with: 1) Prior Written Notice of what the school will or will not do and 2) a Parental Consent/Objection form; if the parents agree, they check complete and sign the form. Parents can note if they agree with some but not all of proposed IEP.
  • At annual IEPs, parents have the right to agree or disagree with proposed IEP; if disagreement is not noted within 14 calendar days of when IEP notice and Consent/Objection form was sent or given to the parents, the plan goes into affect as written. 

Resources: Michigan Alliance for FamiliesMichigan Protection and Advocacy’s Special Education: An Advocate’s Manual 

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Resolving Differences with IEP or Placement

The following is a pathway for resolving differences related to the IEP or the student’s placement. To encourage a collaborative process, it is important that the school support team and parents are always communicating and any concerns are addressed with that team first. Sometimes there is not agreement, and the following information provides a pathway for problem solving a concern. The steps usually are completed in this order: 1) collaborative problem solving, 2) a facilitated meeting, 3) formal mediation, and 4) state complaint and possible due process hearing.    

Resource: Reference the Michigan Special Education Problem Solving Process for additional information on this process in Michigan.  

Collaborative Problem Solving

  • Work with the IEP team and the school district special education director.
  • School team and parent can use the START Meeting Mechanics problem solving process.
  • If unresolved, contact the ISD or ESA for assistance in resolving the issue.

Resource to find ISD or ESA: MI Map of ISDs and ESAs

Facilitated Meeting

  • Having an independent, knowledgeable facilitator will assist in working out differences related to the IEP and can be helpful to both the family and the school.
  • The Michigan Special Education Mediation Program (MSEMP) provides trained, independent facilitators (not employees of the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education, the ISD, or the school district). There is no cost for this service.

Formal Mediation

  • Voluntary, confidential, agreed upon by both the school district and parents.
  • Mediator works with those involved until agreement is reached.
  • Written agreement is needed at the end of the process.
  • Process can end without resolution.
  • The Michigan Special Education Mediation Program (MSEMP) provides trained, independent facilitators (not employees of the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Office of Special Education, the ISD/ESA, or the school district). There is no cost for this service.

State Complaint

Resources to assist with the collaborative, mediation, or complaint process

General IEP Resources

Page last modified November 10, 2017